PlayStation 3 Video Game Review “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

Platform: Playstation 3
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Look Out! Here comes the Spider-Man…again. While I enjoyed the film “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, as any video gamer knows the game adaptations next to always disappoint. Unfortunately, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” suffers the same fate. The game feels rather lazy and not very exciting. Pretty much feels like the took the last game, tweaked it a little and slapped a “2” on it. Like this film which is fading fast from theaters, I also see myself not going back to revisit this game anytime soon.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” allows you to free-roam through New York City web-slinging from here to there. Before the game play even started, I was let down to find that the story doesn’t even follow the movie. It is follows a more generic Spider-Man story that lightly includes the film’s villains and a few other characters that aren’t even in the film. The controls are decent but I found myself continuously referring to the options since there are a ton of different commands for each buttons.

Speaking of generic story, the same goes for the combat. I felt like I was just attacking, blocking and web shooting my way through each battle once I got a hang of the controls. The visuals are decent and probably the best part of the game. Who doesn’t love web-slinging through the city. My wife walked in at one point and said “This is a game?”, so I guess it looked good enough for her. I did keep running into some issues with the video jumping on some cut scenes but nothing major. Overall, I enjoyed this game the first time and less and less thereafter. So unless you are a hardcore Spidey fan, I would probably steer clear.

XBOX 360 Video Game Review “LEGO The Hobbit”

LEGO The Hobbit
Format: XBOX 360
Publisher: Warner Home Video
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Man, I am totally obsessed with all things “The Hobbit” right now. I have recently set through numerous viewings of both “Hobbit” films back to back. I just can’t get enough. I am also an avid fan of all things LEGO (Yes, 31 year old men still play with LEGO sets). The LEGO game series have been fantastic. Making not breaking video game ground with each no installment but tons of fun. I recently loved the new “LEGO Batman” and “LEGO Harry Potter” games and “LEGO The Hobbit” is certainly no different. If you loved the previous LEGO The Lord of the Rings series, this is yet another great addition and must play for anyone looking to explore Middle-earth LEGO style!

Official Premise: From the makers of the immensely popular LEGO The Lord of the Rings, comes LEGO The Hobbit, inspired by the first two films in The Hobbit Trilogy: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the upcoming The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) as well as the collection of LEGO The Hobbit constructions sets. The interactive game of LEGO The Hobbit allows gamers to play along their favorite scenes from the films and follows the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins as he is recruited by the Wizard Gandalf to aid Thorin Oakenshield and his Company of Dwarves. Bilbo leaves the comforts of the Shire on a journey through Middle-earth to help the Dwarves reclaim their lost Kingdom of Erebor within the Lonely Mountain.

The adventure starts with a Hobbit, a wizened Wizard and a group of valiant Dwarves as you head to the Lost Kingdom of Erebor to face the terrifying dragon Smaug. You can play the game as each of these characters from The Hobbit films including Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves: Thorin, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori and Ori. If that isn’t enough you are able to unlocke Sauron if you purchase the Blu-ray of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” for a special in-game unlockable code. So you are not likely to get bored with the variety of option here. Each character has their own unique abilities to solve whichever quest you are facing.

Since we all know that location is everything even in Middle-earth. In the game you get a chance to explore and visit all key locations from the films including Bag End, head through the dangerous High Pass over The Misty Mountains in order to make it to Erebor. What I love most about LEGO in general and not only limited to the game is that you are create some many cool things. Here you are able to tacke exciting treasure quests, mine for gems, discover loot from enemies, craft powerful magical items or, of course, my favorite getting to build amazing and some times rather complicated new LEGO structures.

Another aspect that I love about the LEGO video game series is the humor in it. I love the dramatic aspect of this games and then mixed in so well is some great humor that lightening the mood. This game plays similar to past LEGO games, especially LEGO The Lord of the Rings but I do love that this game has a very new additions as well including much more ability to roam around. Also props to them for securing Christopher Lee to provide the narration between the chapters. If you enjoyed past LEGO games then you will enjoy this for sure. I apologize to my wife in advance for my constant playing of this game for the next few weeks, luckily there is a very fun multi-player option 😉

Book Review “Disney Infinity: Prima Official Game Guide (2014 Revised Edition)”

Author: Howard Grossman
Series: Prima Official Game Guides
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Prima Games
Revised edition
Release Date: March 11, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been playing “Disney Infinity” since the first game it was released and it is so much fun. But to be honest, I probably would have enjoyed it as much without reading the Disney Infinity: Prima Official Game Guide. The book was jam-packed with everything you need to know about the game. Well, since this game is ever-expanding it is only expected that the book should as well. Prima Games released an updated 2014 Revised Edition with over 175 new pages included. I was hesitant at first since I already owned the original guide but this one is a must own for anyone playing Disney Infinity, no question!

This book features easy-to-follow walkthroughs for all ages. Are you stuck on a specific puzzle, mission or quest? If so this book really lays it out for everyone to be able to follow and get the most out of the game. Since the release of the last book, Disney Infinity has released tons of new characters and play sets including “Toy Story in Space”. Included inside are exclusive maps cover every play set with detailed locations of hidden areas, items, and collectibles. If you are looking to max out your new characters like Jack Skellington, Phineas, Agent P, Sorcerer Mickey, Rapunzel, Anna & Elsa and many more you can find out how to unlock their powers and gadgets along with details on the entire power disc collection.

Most importantly if you are a fan of “Disney Infinity” then you enjoy to play in the Toy Box mode. You are able to learn how to build and customize your own virtual world with the detailed guide given on the variety of Disney characters, powers, gadgets and accessories. This new revised edition also comes with free mobile access to the eGuide. This will allow you access your guide from PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone devices etc. I found this really handy when I didn’t have the book right in front of me. So if you are playing “Disney Infinity”, I cannot recommend this guide from Prima Games anymore!

Playstation 3 Video Game Review “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Heroes”

Format: Playstation 3
Publisher: Konami
Rated: Mature
Media: Video Game
Release Date: March 18, 2014

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When I told a friend that I was playing the newest “Metal Gear Solid” game, he was like “How did I miss that?” Well if you are wondering the same don’t worry since “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Heroes” is a prologue to the upcoming full game “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”, which is set to be released TBA 2015. This game is meant to get you excited and get your mouth watering. If you are looking to sit back and get immersed in the whole of “MGS” you might want to wait for the full game because this game is real short. I was able to fly through the campaign in nearly two hours. I would have to recommend this to those who are simply foaming at the mouth and can’t wait till next year to get some more Snake action.

Official Premise: World-renowned Kojima Productions showcases the latest masterpiece in the Metal Gear Solid franchise with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (on sale Spring 2014) is the first segment of the ‘Metal Gear Solid V Experience’ and prologue to the larger second segment, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain launching thereafter. MGSV: GZ gives core fans the opportunity to get a taste of the world-class production’s unparalleled visual presentation and gameplay before the release of the main game. It also provides an opportunity for gamers who have never played a Kojima Productions game, and veterans alike, to gain familiarity with the radical new game design and unparalleled style of presentation. The critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid franchise has entertained fans for decades and revolutionized the gaming industry. Kojima Productions once again raises the bar with the FOX Engine offering incredible graphic fidelity and the introduction of open world game design in the Metal Gear Solid universe. This is the experience that core gamers have been waiting for.

I do have to give the same props for being very visual. In fact during the opening credits cut-scene, my wife walked in the room and said “What movie you watching, Mike?” and didn’t even realize that this was a game. To me that gives a real thumbs up to the game. Now, this was only on Playstation 3, so I cannot even imagine how good it would look on Playstation 4. Stealth is key in this game and definitely not for those who like to run in shoot and ask questions later, but obviously if you are familiar with the series this is no surprise. So whether you play on Normal or Hard, the challenge is very present, which should make hardcore fans happy.

Even though the main campaign is quite short. There is a still some decent replay value to enjoy if you take your time and poke around a bit. There are several side missions, which can be unlocked by finding XOF badges. I also felt that the general plot for this game was much darker than usual for this series, but that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. The game also features a strong voice cast including Kiefer Sutherland (“TV’s “24”) as Snake and Tara Strong (“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”) as Paz Ortega Andrade.

The timeline for the game is set in 1975, so it falls between “Peace Walker (1975)” and the original “Metal Gear (1995)” even though is obviously leads into “The Phantom Pain”, which is set in 1985 but I am basing it in terms of released games. This is also the first “Metal Gear Solid” game to explore the option of an open world giving players total freedom on how to play. So for $29.99, it all comes down to how hardcore of a fan are you for this series. Even though I went back and go to explore a little more after the main campaign, I finished this game just feeling a bit unsatisfied and wanting more.

Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack”

Video Game: Disney Infinity
Format: Any Platform
Media: Accessory
Release Date: April 1, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Disney Infinity is like the gift that just keeps on giving. The latest toy box pack released is “Phineas and Ferb”, even though it included Phineas and Agent P (while excluding Ferb). Personally, I would want Agent P anyway over Ferb (poor Ferb, you don’t talk much…you don’t get much love). The Disney Channel animated series has become so popular over the years. I remember about back around 2008, I was dying to find a Perry the Platypus plush doll and I couldn’t find anything anywhere. Now there is so much merchandise and this show is still going strong with over 200 episodes aired to date.

I play this game a lot and of course we all have our favorite characters to kick around the toy boxes with. Previously I have been having a blast with Sorcerer Mickey but I think Agent P might be taking the reign for sure. He is such a fun character and also has a pretty wicked flying fedora is in artillery. Phineas is no less cooler though. I can see tons of kids getting very creative with their toy boxes and taking on the persona of the character. Plus he also packs a very handy baseball blaster on him.

Along with these two toy box characters, this pack also included two wave 3 power discs. If you follow the game, you will realize that Wave 3 has not even been released yet, so this is a real treat as well. The first is “Tri-State Area Terrain” Texture set and the second is “Danville Sky” Skydome. The transformation of the toy box really looks spot on with the show’s aesthetic value. If you are a fan of the show you get to run around in these well know locations from the show.

I am not sure that this is the absolute final word but I have been following this game for a while and I have a feeling that this might be the last toy box set in series 2. I have been searching online and I have not heard any word about future characters, which means that Disney Interactive might be gearing up and holding out for “Disney Infinity 2”. Either way if you are looking for more ways to expand this amazing game, the Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack is a must have for any fan of the show.

Playstation 3 Game Review “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2”

Platform: Playstation 3
Players: 1
Developer: MercurySteam
Publisher: Konami
ESRB: Mature
Release Date: February 25, 2014

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Ever since 1986, I have been a huge fan of the “Castlevania” series. I probably got introduced to it too young but it has always been a favorite. It probably also influenced my love for anything horror related. Fast forward nearly 30 years and this franchise still has some steam. In fact speaking of steam, this game is from Developer MercurySteam, who has been behind this entire “Lords of Shadow” trilogy. Don’t let the “2” in the title through you off, the trilogy also includes Nintendo 3DS title “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate”. It is also crazy to think that this release is actually the 35th Castlevania game. Well as much as I would like to say it is the best I really can’t. It has it’s moments but overall leaves you wanting more from the closing game in the trilogy. Though if you have been following this trilogy it is worth checking out but I see this gathering dust on my shelf in a very short time and then probably ending up on eBay.

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” does some stocked with some really beautiful and very detailed areas and landscapes. I also received “The Art of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” and it really made me appreciate the work that was done for this game much more. MercurySteam did a great job I might add with the visuals since this game was definitely quite a looker. The character design and development are really sharp and very in depth. In terms of game play though, I can see this game getting old after a while. The control system is interesting since you have the life stealer with the L1 button, which has a certain use and then the shield breaker with R2, so you are constantly changing and it does make things interesting. But I just felt like I was slash, slash, slashing throughout the game throughout my venture.

Official Premise: At the end of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the origin of Dracula and his legendary connection with the Belmonts was revealed. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is the sequel to that 2010 reboot of the Castlevania series for play on Next-Gen game consoles. In it fans can expect thrilling new twists, action, adventure and challenges, as Dracula returns, this time to battle ultimate evil. Yet the dilemma is that he himself is greatly weakened and yearning for release from his immortal bonds. To succeed against the powerful threat he stands against, the vampire lord must reacquire his old powers – and only his castle holds the key. However, the famed Belmont clan also seeks his ultimate destruction in this shocking conclusion to the Lords of Shadow series.

Since this is the last game in this new reboot of the classic Castlevania game series, I am not sure where this series will go now but MercurySteam has said that this was their last go-round with this franchise. I would say that “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” is definitely worth playing, it is not terribly long but it is quite challenging in terms of difficulty. But if you are a hardcore “Castlevania” fan, this should come as no surprise. In terms of story, it is a little confusing or just short on details. But I caught on with what I could and just enjoyed the ride. Speaking of story, just a quick note, if you haven’t played the Nintendo 3DS title “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate” and don’t want it to get spoiled, I would wait on “Lords of Shadow 2” since there’s a 10-minute cut scene that sums up the whole plot. I thought it was a nice tie-in personally of the series. I am sure that this will not be the end of “Castlevania” as like Dracula himself the series is forever. May not be my favorite game of the year but I still stand before this series.

Product Review “Disney Infinity Figures: Rapunzel & Wreck-It Ralph”

Disney Infinity Series
Platform: Nintendo Wii, Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3
Disney Interactive Studios
Exclusive Release

Rapunzel: 4 out of 5 stars
Wreck-It Ralph Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Since the release of Disney Infinity late August, I have been obsessed with this game. There are so many endless possibilities and Disney has been releasing so many great characters this year. Two of the latest figures released are Rapunzel & Wreck-It Ralph. They are also from two of my favorite movies of all-time…yes all-time! My daughter seriously watching “Tangled” at least 3-5 times a week and I try and watch “Wreck-It Ralph” at least once a month. I was really excited to give these characters a go in the Toy Box mode in Disney Infinity. They do not have their own world’s like “Toy Story” and “The Lone Ranger” but you can at least transform your Toy Box into their respective themes since both “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph” has Texture and Terrain Power Discs, which were available in Series 1. I would highly recommend both of these characters.

What is great about these both is that they speak to both male and female audiences. Obviously Wreck-It Ralph is no question going to be over so well with the “boys” and Rapunzel will be a must for the “girls”. My daughter in fact loves both of them equally…given she is only 18 months old but from the minute I took them out of the box she is carrying them around (even in the car) when I am not playing them in the game.  Wreck-It Ralph has a really cool special attack, in which he throws cherry bombs that when hits the ground or it’s target explodes and looks like something from an old 8-bit game. Ralph also runs and pounds the ground with his fists and he destroys everything or everyone in his path. Rapunzel is quite fun as well, she has a killer special move, which is a called Frying Pan Bash. Frying pans…who knew right? Sorry I’ve seen this movie was too many times. Plus there is nothing cooler than see Rapunzel piloting a Recognizer from “TRON” personally (another favorite of mine).

Overall, they are really well designed and look quite amazing. I love Rapunzel’s animated look and I also love her pose as well. That seen in the movie when she gets to the town and gets her hair braided is so sweet. Wreck-It Ralph has little subtleties as well that I love that he a really cool 8-bit sound when his attacks are done. Totally cool for a retro gamer like myself. There is tons of fun to have with these characters and I have a feeling that I have only just began to explore the many possibilities to enjoy with these.  I really can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2014 because this year will be very hard to top. Currently the Wreck-It Ralph and Rapunzel figures are sold exclusively at certain retail stores. Wreck-It Ralph is available only at Best Buy and Rapunzel is only available at Wal-Mart…if you can find them due to the holidays.

Game Review “Castle The Detective Card Game”

Designed by: Matt Hyra
Format: Board/Card Game
Cryptozoic Entertainment
Requires 1 to 5 players
10-45 minutes playtime

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Castle” is easily one of the best shows on TV. I love everything about the show from the clever stories to the fantastic cast. When I saw that Cryptozoic Entertainment released a card game based around the show, I knew that I had to give it a go. In the world of high-def video games, this was a welcomed change and I feel that people sometimes forget what it is like to play a actually card game. The game is very easy to pick up and once you get started tons of fun for everyone involved. Highly recommend for any fan of “Castle”. I see myself playing this game quite often over the next few months.

Official Premise: “Castle The Detective Card Game” is your opportunity to gather clues, make deductions, and determine the murderer, just like Castle and Beckett do each week. As a new detective, you’ve been asked to assist on a slew of murders raging across the island of Manhattan. Do you have what it takes to catch a killer?

You can be one of six characters including Castle, Beckett, Esposito, Ryan, Lanie and The Captain, each of them have their own special ability that can be used once per game. The idea of the game is simple, there are a series of suspect cards and one each you place one poker chips on each (heads down) with the word “guilty” or “not guilty” written on them. Each of the suspect card have three investigations that are required to be made before you can confront. The investigation cards are dealt out to each player and on each turn you are able to pick or dispose a card. The deck consists of of eighty-one cards with nine conditions including investigate crime scene, poker game consult, autopsy and more.

The game itself requires 1 to 5 players in order to play and the games can range from around 10 minutes to 45 minutes. In fact, the first game I played, I got three investigation cards that matched the required conditions on a suspect. I confronted that suspect and immediately got the guilty chip, so it is really all luck of the draw there. Other plays I played lasted much longer. The rules of the game vary due to the amount of people playing.

The game may not be the most difficult and complex game to play but there is tons of possibilities and due to the random choices, you can easily play this game many times before it gets repetitive. In fact, I would love it if Cryptozoic would release new suspects and investigation cards as an add-on bonus to this game, that would you can keep it fresh after playing for a while. Also “Castle” fans be aware that if you purchase the “Season Five” DVD, you get a bonus investigation card as well. Have fun!

Playstation 3 Game Review “Disney Infinity”

Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Disney Interactive
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
Release Date: August 18, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I have never played “Skylanders” ever. Now, I know the idea behind it having seen the numerous characters available for purchase in stores everywhere. I just never really had an interest in the characters. When I heard though that Disney was releasing basically their task on “Skylanders” with “Disney Infinity”, I was blown away. The universe that Disney has in terms of characters is unbelievable. They have an enormous pool of characters to dip into, I guess that is where the name infinity comes from. The idea of the game is basic but the possibilities are endless. You get the the freedom to play with as of your favorite Disney and Disney/Pixar characters in their respective worlds but like never before. This is not your typical platform game at all. There are several modes to explore starting with my favorite the “Toy Box” mode, which gives you complete customization in the game (more on that below). There are also various play sets to explore including “Monsters University”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Incredibles”, which are included and “Cars” and “The Lone Rangers”, which are sold separately. I am sure that this is only going to be expanded as Disney releases new characters in the coming months.

So to get started with the game you are three three character figures to start with including Sulley from “Monsters University”, Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Mr. Incredible, from “The Incredibles”.  You also receive a play set for each of these characters to play in. You cannot unfortunately cross-over other characters into other play sets, so for example  Sulley from “Monsters University” cannot play in the world of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.  If you want to use your imagination and do that then that would be where the toy box would come in handy (I promise more on that below). Like “Skylanders” (and smart for Disney), you can purchase additional character figures. From “Cars” you can purchase Mater, Lightning McQueen, Holly Shiftwell and Francesco. If you like “Pirates of the Caribbean”, you can get Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones. “The Incredibles” fans can get Dash, Violet, Mrs. Incredible and Syndrome. If you enjoyed “The Lone Ranger”, you can purchase him and Tonto. Lastly, if you liked “Monsters University”, you can get Mike Waszowski and Randall. But like I said that is only the beginning, Disney hasn’t even started tapping into their wealth of characters. See below for future plans for expansion.

“Disney Infinity” is not only ever expanding with its characters but also its content.  Literally the more you play, the more you can  unlock ranging from in-game toys to online content. In the game, you can battle enemies, solve puzzles, overcome obstacles and complete a tons of unique quests. Let’s get to the Toy Box now, during playing the game you will find that you will unlock tons of virtual toys from each play set including characters, buildings, weapons, gadgets and more. You are able to utilize these items and let your imagination go in your own custom toy box. If you want to mix run around in The Grid from “TRON” mixed with “Sugar Rush” from “Wreck-It Ralph”, that is completely possible. There are no rules and you can create any adventure you want. If you want to create sports-themed games such as football games and street races…yep, that is possible. You want to put Buzz Lightyear and Davy Jones face-to-face…yep that is also possible. This is a feature that I have only started to tap into since it is literally a game in its own. This to be is an entirely different world and you can easily spend hours, days, months just lost in the possibilities.

Have you had enough yet? Well, we are not close to being done. “Disney Infinity” also has ability to upgrade your characters in game with the purchase of “Power Discs”. They comes in either Circular or Hexagonal power discs that fit right on the Disney Infinity base under your characters and play sets and it unlocks special powers, classic Disney gadgets, themes and vehicles. The Circular power discs are used to grant special power ups that can be used in both Play Set and Toy Box modes. The Hexagonal power discs unlock special gadgets, vehicles and themes and are use only within Toy Box mode though. You are able to stack up to two Circular power discs or up to three Hexagonal power discs to take advantage of this extra features. There are also disc combos that will give you additional upgrades when combined. They are available for $4.99 for each pack with two disc included per pack.  These are also fun to trade to friends in order to collect all 20 of them. It actually become quite additive in order to get them all.  I found myself obsessed with getting the rare disc but let me tell you they are really worth it.  Being able to fly around your toy box on Dumbo from Disney Parks is such a cool feature and a whole lot of fun.

Check out below for a list of all the power discs that you can currently own and remember this is only for series one of three. Disney hasn’t announced a release date for the other series but if you go into your Hall of Heroes in the game you will be able to get a sneak peak at what power discs are in the works in the near future. Did I mention TRON? Oops, I couldn’t help it. I can’t wait to be able to customize my toy box using these great power-ups.

Circular Discs
Bolt’s Super Strength – Character that you’re playing with does 10% more damage
Fix It Felix’s Repair Power – Character you’re playing with has 20% more health
C.H.R.O.M.E’s Armor Shield – In-game character receives -10% less damage
Pieces of Eight – In-game character gains 10% more loot

Hexagonal Discs
Mickey’s Car – Drive Mickey’s Jalopy
Cinderella’s Coach – Drive Cinderella’s Carriage
Kahn– Ride Kahn the Horse from “Mulan”
Stitch’s Blaster – In-game character gets Stitch’s blaster from “Lilo and Stitch”
Carl Fredericksen’s Cane – In-game character gets Carl’s cane from “Up”
King Candy’s Dessert Toppings Texture Set– Adds a “Sugar Rush” theme from “Wreck-it-Ralph”
Sugar Rush Sky Skydome – Adds a “Sugar Rush” theme from “Wreck-it-Ralph”
Alice’s Wonderland Texture Set – Adds an “Alice in Wonderland” terrain
Tulgey Wood Skydome – Adds an “Alice in Wonderland” sky
Marlin’s Reef Texture Set– Adds a “Finding Nemo” terrain
Nemo’s Seascape Skydome – Adds a “Finding Nemo” sky
Rapunzel’s Kingdom Texture Set – Adds a “Tangled” terrain
Rapunzel’s Birthday Sky Skydome – Adds a “Tangled” sky

Rare Hexagonal Discs
Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Adds the Dumbo ride from the Parks
Abu the Elephant – Adds the elephant version of Abu
Astro Blasters Space Cruiser – Adds the Astro Blaster vehicle from the Buzz Lightyear attraction

Let’s get into the actual gameplay a bit now.  I have to admit, since this game is aimed for a younger audience I wasn’t expecting a perfect game, but I was blown away by how much fun it is even for a big kid like myself.  There are a few bugs still within the game. You will find yourself ghosting in the wall of some plays et and toy boxes but that is also due to the endless customization of the game.  There are literally no boundaries…literally.  There are also no lives or continues needed for this game, which I enjoyed but it might turn off hardcore gamer who looks for that extra challenge.  If you fall off a cliff or get “killed”, you just re-spawn and continue where you left off, which was good enough for me. The controls are pretty solid I found expect for the driving, which to me just seems a little too fast. I would like the option to turn down the speed just a notch. Perhaps in a upcoming patch Disney?

So if you are a Disney fan in any aspect, this game is literally a must own.  I cannot even imagine how much they are going to expand this universe.  I can easily see myself playing this game for years to come without EVER getting bored.  There is so much to do and Disney has really scored a major hit here. Also just after this game was released, Disney has already announced some new sets and figures including a Toy Story in Space Play Set, featuring Buzz, Jessie and Woody, which is scheduled to be released in October. Also the next wave of individual figures include Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, Rapunzel from “Tangled”, as well as characters from “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Frozen”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Phineas and Ferb”, which are being rolled out beginning this October also through 2014. So stay tuned because we are only just getting started here.

Product Review “Genius SlimStar T8020 Wireless Multi-TouchPad Keyboard”

When it comes to keyboards, I have to admit, I am a bit of a snob. Since I am at the computer 8-10 hours a day, I need something that is going to be easy to use and kind to my wrists. It also has to be wireless since I don’t always like to be crunched over a desk. When I saw that Genius was a new slim wireless multi-touchpad keyboard, I was certainly interested. The main selling feature of this keyboard is the fact that it supports Windows 8 gestures and is optimized for use with the new Windows operating system. I think that is a really cool feature to add to this device.

I think for anyone that has Windows 8 (and struggling with its new features), this keyboard would be a nice answer. The SlimStar T8020 allows you to switch between three different modes on the touchpad – mouse cursor, Windows 8 gestures, and numeric keypad. I like the option here since it adds a lot of feature to the keyboard itself. I was able to play around with this with my father’s new Windows 8 laptop and the new gestures do come in VERY handy being able to slide, swipe, swipe from four edges, zoom in/out, and page up/down. But what is even cooler is that these gestures just aren’t specific to Windows 8 since they also work in Windows 7, Vista (shame on you if you still use this) and even XP. So there is fun to be had for every PC user.

The keyboard is very sharp looking and if you didn’t get it from the name, it is extremely slim and compact. It is less one inch thick and weighs less than a pound. There are 11 function keys for media control, Internet access and computer power off. It uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology giving you the ability to work over a distance of up to roughly 50 feet (if you can even seen the screen that far). Genius’ SlimStar T8020 is now available in North America for the suggested retail price of $44.90. I would say it is must for any new Windows 8 users definitely.

Product Review: Genius Gaming Arcade Stick for PC & PS3 (Arcade F-1000)

I grew up when arcades used to be very popular and there was nothing like coming home from school and spending the afternoon at the arcade. Unfortunately those days are passed use with today’s high-def video game systems and vanishing arcades. Well, Genius has an answer to your prayers for all us hardcore gamers by bringing the arcade-quality control home for use with your PC or PS3. The new gaming arcade stick, Arcade F-1000 is a great way for us hardcore gamers to get that arcade feel while being in the comfort of our own homes.

This great item can be used on today’s games like “Street Fighter”, “Tekken” and even the “Call of Duty” series. Like I said it works with both PS3 and PC systems, even with Windows 8 operating system (Sorry XBOX you miss out here). I have to admit playing with this brought me back to the old days. It delivers the classic arcade feel yet it is so integrated with today’s games that it works so well.

Now let’s get to the details of the actual device. This comes with a standard 4-axis 13-button joypad and supports turbo function, so you have more precise control that an arcade layout provides and helps you get to the next level while playing action and shooting games. I have to admit, I have always been playing games on the PC but this really gives a great transition to crossing over to the PS3 with this arcade stick. What I like most is that it is not a cheap piece of plastic, it has a quite durable and sturdy metal base. It is not too heavy though weighing in at 1.866 kilograms.

The Arcade F-1000 lastly comes with 3 meter cable and 1 meter extension cable if you need the extra room and this really benefited my setup quite well. I remember my old NES controller with its 12 inch wire and we used to have to sit right in front of the screen before the days of wireless. This great item is now available in the US and Canada for the suggested retail price of US$59.99. I think it is worth every penny and will deliver a new or retro video game experience for sure.

XBOX 360 Review “Star Trek: The Game”

Format: XBOX 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Digital Extremes
Release Date: April 23, 2013

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of “Star Trek”, especially the new reboot from J.J. Abrams. When it comes to video game adaptations of films, things never usually turn out well. Unfortunately, “Star Trek: The Video Game” is no different at all. You are able to play as either Kirk or Spock or together as a co-op duo. 2009’s “Star Trek” cast is on-board reprising their voices for the game, including Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Despite that though, this the game has poor controls, lacking animation and filled with a whole mess of bugs. While playing, I was just left repeating the same thing over and over…”Was this game ever tested before being released”. I guess with the release of “Star Trek Into Darkness” this summer, they were anxious to get it out there. Unless you are a die-hard Trekkie and need to own everything “Star Trek” as a collector, then I would recommend steering clear from this game.

The game itself was developed by Digital Extremes, who are known for games like “Bioshock 2”, “Dark Sector” and “The Darkness 2”. The story is set after events of “Star Trek” (2009) and is written by BAFTA award winner and “God of War” writer, Marianne Krawczyk, along with close collaboration with the writer/producers of the new “Star Trek films”, Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. The story is decent but not enough to balance out the negative. You are able to explore new areas on the Enterprise and other ships, as well as never-before-seen sectors throughout the galaxy. I have to admit that I was very curious about how the co-op experience was going to be turn out and I was left very unsatisfied. I felt that it was very annoying, especially having to wait for the character to catch up when in one player mode. On the positive, you do get two different characters to explore, if you can deal with the bugs. I would have been happier to settle with one character backed with really good game play over what we got here.

For XBOX 360, I have certain expectations in terms of graphics and general animation. From the moment this game started, I was looking at Kirk and Spock and I just said out loud “Eww, they look terrible”. The graphics are very poor and not polished at all. I feel like this final product should have been like the first beta for this game before they cleared the bugs and polished it up. Same goes for the controls, which are all over the place and will have struggling to get a grasp on your characters. Also even though we get the original cast returning, there is also issue with terrible lip-syncing. The game clocks in at around 10 hours, which is pretty good for a film adaptation but that is not 10 hours of pleasure, more like aggravation. It is also 10 hours that you will never get back. “Star Trek: The Game” will leave you wanting more and wishing you didn’t just spend $60 on this game. I might recommend to check it out if when it drops to under $20 bucks, just if you are a die-hard fan.

XBOX 360 Game Review “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth”

Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: Ubisoft
Rated: Teen
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Marvel’s The Avengers”, they are the hottest ticket in not only film this year but also anything having to do with media in general.  So the release of “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is not a shock.  The game is a head-to-head fighting game where you can put iconic Marvel superheroes and villains against each other. You can choose from 20 classic Marvel characters, each one that is equipped with four unique superpowers. But this isn’t your typical fighting game you have to use motion to fight and trigger attacks using the Kinect.  But it is met with mostly mixed results.

Like most fighting games there is a wide variety of game modes including Co-op, Campaign, Arcade, Challenges, Versus, and Tournament. Concerning the fighting system, it is decent and definitely not the worst I have ever come across, there is your typical use of Super Attacks, Velocity Boost, Breaker, or Frenzy to battle your  opponents. On the plus side that didn’t make it a total bust for me, there is tons of extras to unlock as you go through the battles like unlocking unique outfits and collector cards.

The character line-up avaialble for “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Iceman, Iron Man, Loki, Magneto, Phoenix, Queen Veranke, Scarlet Witch, Spider Man, Storm, Super Skrull, The Hulk, Thor, Venom and Wolverine.

I did enjoy getting a chance to control both the heroes and villains of the Marvel universe using my movements but it did get a little tiring.  The capturing of my movement was also quite accurate. The graphics are also quite impressive with some sharp shading. I mean it is not super high-def but I feel that that was the angle that they were going for, more of a comic book look and not so polished.  In the end, this will surely be loved by energetic kids under the age of 12.   Adults might enjoy playing but will most likely loose interest after a short while.

Product Description: “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth” is the ultimate superhero brawler. It features 20 different characters, including Avengers such as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor, as well as other fan-favorite Super Heroes and Super Villains from the Marvel Universe. Players will use motion gameplay to execute explosive super attacks, unleash devastating special moves and play with friends or against the AI in a wide variety of game modes.

iPad Game Review “Sliced Bread HD”

Format: iPad in HD, also available on iPhone
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2012
Version: 1.01
Price: $1.99
Sliced Bread Games LLC

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

What’s the best thing since sliced bread? Well, the new game “Sliced Bread” for your iPhone and iPad, could be the correct answer.  Even though it is extremely similar to the popular “Fruit Ninja”, I feel the game offers enough to make it stand alone on its own. I feel it is different since it feels more welcoming while throwing in some impressive game play and graphics. If you are looking for a quick, fun and easy game to play “Sliced Bread” is a little slice of heaven.

In this game you are able to enter the kitchen and test your slicing skills. Your goal is to slice up many various baked good including bread, bagels and pastries while avoiding the angry fruit. I enjoyed that fact that you can not only slice certain objects once but numerous times as well to make it even more challenging. This is really a fun and addicting game that will easily take up countless hours on your iPad.

The game included two modes Extreme Baking mode and the non-stop Pastry School mode. Extreme Baking is what you expect…just a non-stop timed all-in race to slice as much as you can. The school is a more structured mode with ability to use items you earn to assist. You are even able to “Remodel Bakery”, which gives the allows you to choose different backgrounds. The game definitely has reply value, which is a plus. Lastly, you can also battle your friends or the global scores in either Game Center or OpenFeint leaderboards.

XBOX Console & Game Review: Star Wars R2-D2 Console & Kinect Star Wars

Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Distributed by: LucasArts
Price: $449.00

Star Wars R2-D2 Console: 4 out of 5 stars
Kinect Star Wars: 3 out of 5 stars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. OK enough of that. The Star Wars Limited Edition Xbox 360 is really well done. When I finally got it and started to open it the nerd in me was very excited. Being a long time Star Wars fan and that my other 360 was broken there was no doubt in me getting this.

It comes with the Xbox 360 Console which is custom themed to R2-D2. The Kinect Sensor is the first white one of its kind on the 360. The wireless controller is gold and themed to C-3PO. The controller is detailed very nicely. A 320GB hard drive is the largest available on the 360. It also comes with two games Kinect Star Wars and Kinect Adventures.

Hooking everything up was pretty easy. Upon turning the 360 on for the first time the console made its first R2-D2 sound. The console will make R2 sounds when you turn it on and off from the console or open and close the tray from the console. If you use the controller to power on/off the console it will not make the R2 sounds.

Now on to the Kinect Star Wars game. It starts off with C-3PO and R2-D2 and recently recovered Jedi Archives. Listening to the two droids go back and forth with each other like they do in the movies gives a good feeling of being immersed into the Star Wars Universe. You have several different modes you can select from.

Campaign Story: The bulk of the content in the game. You are a padawan learner and you go through the Clone Wars. The voices at times do not match with the animation. The voice acting is not the greatest but it is not bad either. When it comes to the lightsaber battles it is almost like a turn based RPG. At first your enemy will attack you and you have to block then once you build enough stamina you go into a lock where your weapons clash together and you have to break the lock by doing one several different options like Force Push, Kick, or Head butt you opponent. After successfully doing so, you can now attack your enemy. This gets repeated until one of wyou go down. Now I must say that the Kinect did capture the movements pretty decently. Also the nerd in me I used my Master Replicas Lightsaber hilt to give it more of a Jedi feeling for me. This did not affect the Kinect at all regarding being able to read my movements. Depending on what hand you use for your Lightsaber the other is used for your force moves. You can force push or grab and toss your enemies around. Not all enemies can be affected by the force. One thing that does ruin the experience is the use of cut scenes. While playing you are constantly put into a cut scene where you have no control over your char. It does this pretty often and does get annoying.

Pod Racing: This is done really well and one of the better mini games available. The controls work great and you have to hold your arms up as if you were in the podracer itself. When you pull your arms back your racer slows down and applies the break. Thrust your arms forward gives you a burst of speed. Turning can be a little bit tricky but once you are used to it you should not have any problems. The story is geared more towards a younger audience but is fun none the less.

Rancor Rampage: You are the rancor and everyone else is your meal. Nom Nom! This mode is very entertaining and a lot of fun. You are a rancor on the loose and you can pretty much destroy anything in your path. You can also eat the poor people that are running around. What is also fun is you can pick up people and throw them, you do get added bonus the farther you can toss them.

Duels of the Fate: This mode takes you through a series of Lightsaber duels. This is pretty slow and not as exciting as one would hope.

Galactic Dance Off: Who of us would not want to dance with Slave Leia!! Well after this you will not be 100% fulfilled. Even though the story line may not make sense it was indeed fun if you can get past that. I mean I can’t see as Leia having fun and smiling while Jaba’s captive. Yes in the game it does seem like she is having a good time, but as I said if you can get past that part the play is fun.